Subjects on this page: The Arabic Alphabet | Prefix Styles
Bahrain | Egypt | Gulf Rupees | Iraq | Jordan | Kuwait | Oman | Qatar | Qatar & Dubai
Saudi Arabia | UAE | Yemen | South Yemen
The Arabic alphabet contains twenty-eight characters. These characters and a set of English characters used for transliteration are provided in the chart below.
|The letters of the Arabic Alphabet in Alphabetical order (from left to right)|
The characters displayed in the chart above are the 'stand alone' characters. Arabic does not have upper-case and lower-case letters, as English does, but most characters change form depending on whether they are: a stand-alone character, the initial letter of a word, in the middle of a word, or at the end of the word. For the serial number prefixes on the Arab banknotes, most characters are in the 'stand-alone' format as displayed above. However, in the series for Kuwait, the initial form of ج is used, this being: جـ. Arabic, like English, can also be written in a number of fonts. Sometimes the Arabic characters can be difficult to tell apart. This is particularly so on the banknotes of Bahrain where it is difficult to distinguish between د, ر and و because of the fonts used.
While it is important to know the alphbetical order of the Arabic alphabet, it is also important to know the numeric order of the alphabet, as this order is commonly used for the serial number prefixes. The values assigned to each letter appear in the following chart.
|The letters of the Arabic Alphabet in numeric order|
Finally, to be able to understand the serial number prefixes, the Arabic numerals need to be understood. Since the numbers used in the Western world are based on those of the Arab world, the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, et cetera are properly called 'Arabic numerals'. However, since the numerals used by the Arabs are different, the following convention is adopted. The numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 0 will be refered to as 'Western numerals' and those used by the Arabs as 'Arabic numerals'. The following chart shows the numerals.
|Arabic and Western Numerals|
For the banknotes issued in Iran, a modified set of Arabic numerals are used. These are the Persian numerals and they appear below. Most numerals are the same as the the Arabic numerals except for the 4, 5, and 6.
|Persian and Western Numerals|
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Strict numeric prefixes are not widely used on Arab banknotes. The one country that has almost exclusively used numeric prefixes is Saudi Arabia. Apart from the Pilgrim Receipts, all Saudi Arabian notes carry a numeric prefix. Sometime the prefix starts with a single numeral and then a double, then triple numeral; such as ١٢, ١ and ١٢٣. Other times it is always three numerals, starting at ٠٠١, then later moving to ٠١٢ then ١٢٣. The last notes issued in the third issue of the UAE also use a strict numeric sequence, although the third numeral refers to the denomination.
In this prefix style, all notes of one series carry the same letter. Commonly, the first series carries the first letter of the sequence, the second series carries the second letter and so on. The sequence of letters could be 'alphabetic' or 'numeric', but it is invariably 'numeric'. (However, since the first two letters of the 'alphabetic' and 'numeric' sequences are the same, it might be argued that in several cases the 'alphabetic' sequence was used when only one or two issues were made.)
An example of the 'numeric' sequence can be found in the issues of Oman. All notes of the first series carried 'ا' and the notes of the second series carried 'ب'. The notes of the subsequent three series issued by the Central Bank re-commenced the sequence and each series carry the letters 'ب' ,'ا' and 'ج' in that order. The series letter sits above a number that increments as the issue continues.
In this prefix style, each denomination in a series carries a different letter of the alphabet. The letters may be in 'numeric' sequence (such as in the the second and third series of Qatar) or in the 'alphabetic' order (such as in the third series of the UAE). The order of the notes may be ascending with the first letter assigned to the lowest denomination (such as for Qatar) or the order may be descending with the first letter assigned to the highest denomination (such as for the UAE). In most cases, an incrementing number accompanies the prefix.
By far the commonest style of prefix is the combination of letters, with one letter assigned to the series and a second letter assigned to the denomination. The best examples of this are the serial number prefixes used for the third and subsequent issues of Kuwait. In these prefixes, the right-hand letter indicates the series and the left-hand letter indicates the denomination.
There are a number of variations to styles described above and each of these is described where they occur on the prefix page for each country. Some are quite simple, such as for the Saudi Pilgrim Receipts, and some are more complex, such as the use of two letters in the prefixes of Bahrain. If the sequences described for each country are not clear, contact us and we will clarify them.
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